Posts tagged ‘Mad Hatter’

Detective Annual 11 – Azrael causes problems, the Riddler goes for an old standard, and Oracle teams with Looker


There are three stories in Detective Annual 11 (2009), the first, which is also the longest, being a continuation of a story from this year’s Batman Annual.


The story, by Fabian Nicieza and Tom Mandrake, deals with another secret society, this one out to raise a demonic spirit through the seven deadly sins, and the sacrifice of children descended from earlier cult members.


Batman and the Question work on it together from their side.  Azrael has his own agenda, and Robin has gone in disguise as one of the children, and already been kidnapped.  Renee does not take long to realize that it is Nightwing now wearing the Batman costume.


Azrael learns that the sacrifice depends on the children being of the blood of the earlier ones, which of course means that, should Robin get sacrificed, the spell will not work.


Damian does break free, and his identity as Robin is exposed.  The evil cultists try to lure him back.  I’m not sure that sending an aggressively naked older woman is the best way to lure a 10 year old boy, even if it’s Damian.


But it’s Azrael to the rescue anyway, and he joins with Robin as they take down the cultists, in a manner as overtly violent as only Damian and an Azrael can be.


Batman and the Question are rushing to the scene.  The cultists are in a penthouse, and the story gets a moment of levity as Batman sends Renee up to the roof quickly.


Frankly, this story failed to grab me, even with Mandrake’s art.   I do like Harvey Bullock’s crude way of explaining how he knew Renee was the Question, and there are some other good moments.


The story ends with both the villains and the heroes angry with Azrael.  I have never liked any version of that character, which probably explains why I don’t care for a long story featuring him.


There is a very cute 2-page “L’il Gotham” story, by Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen.  Not much in the way of plot, the Riddler does a variant of the St. Ives riddle song, though calling it Poison Ives.  A staggering amount of cameos in this, for only being two pages.  Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Commissioner Gordon, Batman, Batwoman, Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl, as well as the Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Two-Face, Clayface, Mad Hatter, Joker, Scarecrow, Black Mask, Croc, Hush, Ra’s Al Ghul, and even the original Ventriloquist, Arnold Wesker, with Scarface.

Of the three stories in this issue, it’s sad that I enjoyed this 2 page piece more than the others.


The final story in the issue, by Amanda McMurray and Kelly Jones, features a team-up between Oracle and Looker.


There is a bad guy who thinks he is a vampire, but isn’t, and who is obsessed with Barbara Gordon, though we never find out why.  Looker is unaware that Barbara is Oracle, and is kept in the dark. Looker has become a vampire herself during her time with the Outsiders, so she is the perfect one to take down a faker.


The ending of the story leaves more questions than answers, and was clearly intended to be followed up.  As far as I know, it never was.




Detective 853 – the concluding half of “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?”


Detective 853 (April 2009) has the second half of Neil Gaiman’s “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?”, with art by Andy Kubert.  The story is a thematic sister to Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?”, and exists sort of on its own, as a two-part story outside normal continuity, but also fits neatly into what is currently occurring with Batman.  The first half was published in the previous issue of Batman.


As with the first half, the story is set at Batman’s funeral, with friends and enemies in attendance.  While the first issue gave a lot of time to a couple of stories, this issue give a number of characters a brief opportunity to tell their versions of how Batman died.


As well as Betty Kane, shown in the original Bat-Girl outfit for the first time since 1978, eulogies are given by the Mad Hatter, the Joker, Dick Grayson, when he was still Robin, Clayface, Harvey Bullock and Ra’s Al Ghul.


Superman’s speech ends this section, as Batman starts to become aware of what is happening.


He suspects that he is having a near-death experience, and the voice that has been with him throughout this,now identified as his mother, tells him that this is true.


The story becomes a meditation on what Batman is, what he stands for.  Batman cannot ever simply retire and live happily ever after.  He is about never giving up, so Batman can only die in action.


He asks if he is going to heaven or hell, but the woman replies neither. He does not get those options.  He gets to be Batman, that’s enough.  As the story reaches it end, it takes on the Goodnight Moon narrative, as batman bids good-bye to the cave and the car.  Robin, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon and his villains – Joker, Catwoman, Riddler, Two-Face, Penguin, Ra’s Al Ghul and Poison Ivy shown.  The art mixes past and present versions, creating an eternal Batman.


And it ends as Martha Wayne gives birth to Bruce.  His death takes him back to his birth, and the cycle begins again.

It serves as a reflection on a character that can never be killed off, in a medium that is so easy to re-read.  Endings launch beginnings, and everything comes around eventually.

Detective 841 – The Wonderland Gang


Dini, Nguyen and Fridolfs craft my favourite story from Dini’s run, “The Wonderland Gang,” which begins as a team-up of the Mad Hatter and Tweedledee and Tweedledum, in Detective 841 (April 2008).


By the time Batman encounters the gang, it has already gained a new member, the March Hare, a female inmate from Arkham.  Tweedledee and Tweedledum are now identical twins.  Previously, they had been cousins, but Dumfree died, in some unspecified way, and was replaced by Deever’s twin brother.  They are the muscle, with Hatter the brains.


The gang continues to expand, with a Lion and Unicorn, and later a Walrus and Carpenter.  Batman is surprised, as these people, like the March Hare, really do not have the powers or status to be working with the Mad Hatter.


Indeed, they are not.  The Tweedles are in control.  They snagged some of the Mad Hatter’s mind control gear, and are forcing him to front their gang.


Batman suspected as much, and works his way through the crew, although Hatter is happy to see him take the rest down.  The Carpenter also chooses not to fight.  She will return a couple years down the road in an excellent story in Batman – Streets of Gotham.


Back in Arkham, and on their meds, the Tweedles apologize to Jervis Tetch for their actions.  He slaps some mind control gear on them, and send them to fighting each other.

A great one-shot tale.


Detective 818 – the death of Scarface, and Jason Bard begins


Robinson, Kirk and Clarke continue with Face the Face, part 3, joined by Wayne Faucher, in Detective 818 (June 2006).


Magpie, a minor villain, is the latest one found dead, again with two bullets to the head.


All the evidence is pointing towards Harvey Dent being the killer, but Batman simply does not want to believe that.  He also realizes he needs a daytime operative to function when he is not able to.


The Mad Hatter pops up, but no one tries to kill him before Batman can take him down.


On the other hand, the Ventriloquist does not fare as well, as Arnold Wesker gets gunned down.  Scarface attempts to write a clue in Wesker’s blood.


But Scarface gets shot as well.

The story continues – partly in the next issue of Batman, and partly in the second story in this issue.


Jason Bard’s series returns to the pages of Detective, and even retains it’s old title: The Crime File of Jason Bard.  Robinson, Kirk, Clarke and Faucher are the creative team on this story as well.

Jason Bard had not appeared very much in the last decade. His most recent appearances had been in the pages of Birds of Prey.  In this story, we see that he is back as a private eye in Gotham, working on a case of a murdered husband while sleeping with the widow.


Batman comes by to enlist him as his personal investigator, making him an offer he cannot refuse.  Worth noting are the other two detectives that Batman credits as capable – Ralph Dibny, and Roy Raymond.  Ralph was currently appearing in 52, thus the vague comment about him being unavailable (in fact, he was dead by this time).  Batman dismissing Roy Raymond as wasting his skills on daytime television speaks volumes about Batman.


Jason accepts, and casually asks Batman to take the not-so-grieving widow with him to the police station, as she killed her husband.  Hiring Jason was just part of her cover-up plan.  He had figured it out, but she was still worth the sex before turning her in.


Oh, Jason.

The story continues in the next issue.


Detective 800 – fallout from War Games, and a teaser for City of Crime


Andersen Gabrych, Pete Woods and Cam Smith end their run on this book with an epilogue to War Games, in Detective 800 (Jan.05).


Batman finds himself on the wrong side of the law once again.  Akins is still out to get him, and the police blame him for the deaths of many of the comrades during War Games.


With her Clock Tower base destroyed, Barbara decides to leave Gotham, and set up as Oracle somewhere else – corresponding to events in Birds of Prey.  And with Barbara gone, Jim Gordon also feels it is time to move on.


Orpheus turns out to be a more successful martyr than hero, and Onyx leads his old followers, and new devotees.


There is a kidnapping in this story, and some action.  Batman tracks down the kidnapper, the Mad Hatter, who is using a mind-controlled Croc as his muscle.


But the real goal is not the kidnapping, but luring Batman, so that Black Mask can gloat, and show off the degree of control he now has, thanks to Batman.


About his only friend left is Catwoman, who learned his identity during Hush, and can still can break through his dispassionate shell.


The second story in the issue is a teaser, or a prologue, for City of Crime, which will run in this book over the next year.


David Lapham is the writer and artist.  The story, if there is one, is not very clear, but certainly sets an evocatively threatening mood.


The art is great, but the lack of focus or direction left me concerned.



Detective 787 – Batman vs the Jabberwock, and the Dog Catcher doesn’t drink the coffee


Detective 787 (Dec. 03) has two great stories and a wonderful cover as well.


Brian K Vaughn, Rick Burchett and John Lowe are the creative team on the lead story.  Harvey Bullock is back on the force, and is in charge of the investigation prompted by a mysterious clue sent to the force – why is a raven like a writing desk?  The police suspect the Riddler or Cluemaster, but Batman recognizes it as the answerless riddle from Alice in Wonderland, spoken by the Mad Hatter.


And indeed, Jervis Tetch is the villain in this issue, having broken out of Arkham, he has brought his psychiatrist with him, against his will, and also kidnapped Kirk Langstrom.  Under his control, the Hatter has Langstrom create a serum that he injects his psychiatrist with.


It turns the man into the Jabberwock, looking much like the Tenniel illustration from Through the Looking Glass.


Batman first frees Kirk Langstrom, who is relieved to discover that he did not become Man-Bat during his time with the Hatter, and then battles the Jabberwock, as the Hatter recites lines from the poem Jabberwocky.


Batman wins by injecting the beast with the antidote Langstrom creates.  To his surprise, the psychiatrist is actually understanding of the situation, and sees that the Hatter did this in a twisted attempt to help the doctor better understand his patients.  Batman is left with high admiration for the man.


Spears and G take the Dog Catcher to a darker place with this chapter.


With no response from the Joker, and time running out for the dog, the Catcher attempts to encourage people to adopt him, but without any luck.


As the work day ends, he reluctantly puts the dog to sleep.  He does not notice he co-worker die horrifically from drinking the coffee left sitting out.


But he can’t possible miss the Joker’s big entrance.

The story concludes next issue.


Detective 781 – The Joker fills in the gaps, and Gottismburgh


Batman has to beat the truth out of the Joker in Detective 781 (June 2003), because that’s the way the Joker likes it, according to Brubaker, Castillo and Von Grawbadger.


The Joker tells Batman how Sloan got so into the role of Two-Face that he would start fighting with the other villains, the ones he was terrified of as himself.  The Riddler, Penguin, Scarecrow, Mad Hatter and Killer Moth all get cameos in the flashbacks.


Sloan decided to pull a job as Two-Face, on his own, to prove he could act the role.  Batman’s remembers, and how he suspected something was wrong when Two-Face hesitated after a coin toss, before shooting a victim.

The Joker also tells Batman that he was the one who phoned in the anonymous tip about the theft that night.  He scuttled his own plans, and pulled in Sloan only to pull him down.


The robbery was blamed on Two-Face, who was furious at being impersonated, kidnapped Sloan, and tortured him for days.  The Scarecrow pronounced him dead, and took away the body.


The Joker concludes his run of info by telling Batman that Sloan had told him much of this, only the day before, and wanted him to tell Batman, in order to delay him.


Two-Face escapes from Arkham, after meeting with a lawyer.  Batman joins Renee Montoya at the scene, and sees that the drawing of the lawyer looks just like Harvey Dent.

The story concludes next issue.


I suppose this was intended to start off a Batman Elseworlds serial in these pages.  The story as it stands, by Jon Lewis and Stefano Gaudiano, certainly doesn’t feel like it reaches its ending.


The story deals with child factory workers in an Industrial Revolution era world.  Batman exists a legend, the Bat King, in the forest.  There is a prince, who some kids think might be the Bat King.


The forest is filled with little Robins everywhere, and the Prince turns out to be a dick, and not likely the Bat King.

And then….

Nothing.  End of story, never followed up again, so far as I know.

Nice art, though.


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